Margalit Zinati is Not Leaving!
This morning, on my way to run an errand downtown, I was reading about 84-year-old Margalit Zinati, one of the very last Jews left in Pekiin, a village in the Galilee which is now inhabited almost entirely by Druze and Arabs. Both of Margalit’s parents were born in Pekiin, and according to her family tradition, their roots in Pekiin date back over 2000 years, when her family served as Cohanim in the Holy Temple.
As she walks around Pekiin, visiting its 150-year-old synagogue every morning at 6 AM to sweep its path, Margalit carries within her apron pocket the rusty keys of Pekiin’s ancient cemetery and other buildings associated with the now almost non-existent Jewish community.
Pekiin and Jerusalem are the only two places in Israel where Jews have been living, uninterrupted, since the Temple’s destruction. And according to the journalist who interviewed her, determination and purpose fill Margalit’s every day and even step around her beloved village.
Over the years, Margalit has suffered from harassment and hostility from her non-Jewish neighbors. After violent riots took place in 2007, most of Pekiin’s already tiny Jewish community feared for their safety, and fled. But Margalit has no plans to leave. She has dedicated her life to guarding over Pekiin’s Jewish heritage. And she plans to continue doing so for as long as she is able.
“The truth is,” Margalit told b”Sheva, “it hasn’t always been easy for me. There were years when I asked myself: what can I do all on my own against all of them? This was once a Jewish village, and now I am living here on my own. But I didn’t give up. And I continued living my regular life in the village. Getting up every morning, watching over the synagogue, living here.”
I will admit that after reading about Margalit, I felt a bit deflated.
Do determination and purpose fill my days– as I run errands and clean my kitchen and break up my children’s fights? Hmmm, well… NO!
But then I thought of something which made me lift my chin a bit higher….
I thought of how Margalit’s determination to maintain Jewish life in Pekiin is similar to the determination of every JewishMOM after the Shoah. 70 years later, we are still recovering, still rebuilding the great European Jewish civilization which Hitler managed to destroy. The 6 million lost. HY”D.
Every Jewish marriage. Every Jewish home. Every Jewish child. Is a step towards rebuilding of the Jewish people which was almost destroyed.
True, I generally don’t feel that by raising these kids in this house I am accomplishing something of earth-shaking, world-building importance.
But the fact that I don’t feel like I am, as Margalit Zinati does, doesn’t, I think, make it any less true.